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The Listening Walls

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  163 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Amy Kellogg is not having a pleasant vacation in Mexico. Shes been arguing nonstop with her friend and traveling companion, Wilma, and she wants nothing more than to go home to California. But their holiday takes a nightmarish turn when Wilma is found dead on the street below their room-an apparent suicide.

Rupert Kellogg has just returned from seeing his wife Amy through
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 3rd 2019 by Pushkin Vertigo (first published 1959)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  163 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime, 2020
The mystery of the missing wife...

Amy Kellogg and her friend Wilma are on holiday in Mexico City but its turning out to be a fraught time. Wilma, always moody and overbearing, is behaving even worse than usual following her second divorce. Shes drinking to excess and arguing with Amy on the slightest provocation. Then, following a drinking session, Wilma dies in a fall from the hotel balcony. Her depressed and emotional state leads the authorities to rule it as a suicide. Amys husband, Rupert,
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
On turning the last page, I found myself in agreement with the quote at the front of my copy by Christopher Fowler, author of the Bryant & May mysteries: She cant write a dull sentence, and her endings always deliver a shock.

I really enjoyed the depiction of the minor characters and the little details of suburban and domestic life revealed during Elmer Dodds interviews with witnesses and potential suspects. Similarly, the clever plotting with clues (or are they red herrings?) at every turn
Carla Remy
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From 1959. I love Millar's writing, her observations of life. I think it is cool that she has her own style of mysteries, her own plotting and pacing. I don't really get her obsession with revealing the secret, the killer, on the very last page. This has good parts, but it is not one of her more successful novels, I think. Like the last of hers I read, Beyond This Point Are Monsters, it is all about the relationship between Californians and Mexicans.
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wilma Wyatt and Amy Kellogg take a trip to Mexico City. Though they have been friends for years, they are very different and don't always agree on much of anything. Wilma has a forceful personality while Amy is more meek and usually accommodating.

The hotel where Wilma and Amy are staying employs a maid by the name of Consuela Gonzales who speaks perfect English, yet pretends to know only Spanish. She frequently steals small items from the hotel guests and listens to their conversations from
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Last year I read and enjoyed Vanish in an Instant (1952), a tightly-plotted murder mystery by the Canadian-American crime writer, Margaret Millar. The Listening Walls is a later work published some seven years after Vanish in 1959. If anything, TLW is a more accomplished novel, certainly in terms of its premise and insights into the secrets and petty disagreements of suburban life. Certain aspects of the story reminded me of novels by other American crime writers I love and admire in ...more
Mar 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Millar was married to another writer, Ken Millar, who wrote mysteries as Ross MacDonald. I like his writing a lot, and she was better known in her day than him (Serving as president of Mystery Writer's of America, receiving a lifetime Edgar Allen Poe award, writing for Warner Brothers) although she is largely unknown now and most of her work is out of print.

She's apparently known for writing about women, sex, class and her character's complex inner lives. The level of character
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Another brilliant novel by Millar. It's a long, convoluted story that takes us down various shadowy trails and winds up with a last-minute twist that's like a sobering slap in the face.
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another fine Millar outing, though I have to admit the deluge of dialogue in the penultimate chapters explaining the mystery so that we can get to the finale was almost so overblown that I toyed with the idea of docking another star.
Kevin Orth
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All time favorite mystery novel of all time!
Charles Fischer
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marvelous, just marvelous. It wouldn't be hyperbole to say that Millar, at her best, was the best mystery writer there ever was; okay, she didn't have the plotting elasticity of Agatha, but she was a better writer than the Dame, Chandler, Hammett, her husband Ross Macdonald, any of them. That is, when she was at her best. She makes it all look so effortless. She tells you more about a character or a place in a sentence or two than most writers could in an entire page. She writes with swift ...more
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't mean to kick this book down the stairs or anything, but the ending really sucks. I mean that in a "why did you stage it that way? That's so unsatisfying" kind of way. It made me sort of sadly shake my head and think, maybe reading genre fiction isn't for me after all.

Which is too bad, because there are parts of this book that I thought were really great-- there's a sentence in the first paragraph, something about the closet the maid is hiding in being as narrow as the road to heaven,
Man, Millar can just write. I love her quiet, comfortable use of the semi-omniscient narrator to undercut the way the characters see themselves, something that's done so masterfully and so pointedly that I was grinning to myself every couple pages. The characterizations are also reliably complex, and such a refreshing change from how, for example, women, private detectives, and faithful!husbands are sometimes portrayed in much-derided 'genre writing.' There's a lull toward the end of the book, ...more
Aaron Martz
This is one of those convoluted missing persons/murder mysteries where it takes about nine pages of dialogue at the end to explain what was going on. I always feel when an author has to resort to that that they didn't do their job as well as they could have. The story is intriguing nearly all the way through, and I kept waiting for the detective to solve the mystery, and I suppose he must have for the book to end the way that it does, but there seemed to be something missing en route from A to ...more
Linda Hill
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Wilma dies in a fall from a balcony a chain of events is set off.

In todays age of crime writing twists, psychological thrillers and domestic noir, it is absolutely fascinating to discover a book originally published sixty years ago in 1959 that has all those elements in the brilliantly written The Listening Walls.

Margaret Millar has created a perfect plot that writhes along, wrong footing the reader and adding surprise after surprise along the way. I genuinely didnt guess all the outcomes
Bill FromPA
Jul 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir, 1950s
I've now read enough Millar to expect an extreme twist at the end of the story, but here she tries too hard and it's a train wreck, owing something perhaps to the weakest plot element of The Moonstone. Up to around the last 20 pages, it's a terrifically engaging thriller, with violent death, a "gone girl" spousal disappearance, private detective, and plenty of suspicious behavior. Millar is great at telling a story from multiple and very diverse viewpoints.
Dead John Williams
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I read this with enjoyment. A view into another time and place for sure. I cannot really recall what it is about, it did have a beginning, middle and end but it was more the experience of reading it, like going back in time and seeing into the minds of others that were full of important things from that time but which seem nothing much now.

If this was a movie it would have been on late at night on a near forgotten channel.

That doesn't sound as good as the book so forgive me.
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've seen it called the best thriller of all time - not sure about that but it's a good read.
I quite liked the era specific mystery but not sure Id be keen to read more of her work. ...more
Carol Jean
Not really as psychologically complex as the others I've read by this author. And I'm really worried about that corpse on the kitchen floor -- somehow the whole thing doesn't ring true.
Sarah Beck
Guardian mystery recommendations
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A perfect little mystery. I'll definitely be looking for more books from this author.
great characters, mystery, and humor. not too dated. very entertaining!
Jim Thomas
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
I'm going out on a limb here perhaps but I think The Listening Walls a better novel than Gone Girl or Girl on The Train.

Margaret Millar (accent on last syllable) was married Kenneth Millar, the creator of the great Lew Archer detective series which he wrote under the pen name of Ross Macdonald. Margaret just might be a better mystery writer. Her books are exciting and suspenseful with great twists. The Listening Walls is a wild ride with a shocker of an ending - literally the last sentence blew
Tina Tamman
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
Not one of Millar's best. I thought the plot was far too complicated and the characters not complicated enough. I never got into it really, just read out of duty. It is essentially a story about the relationship between two couples but I felt left behind early on and had to think hard who was married to whom.
However, I do recommend Millar - she is full of surprise. Most of what I've read is set in California and Mexico, but the plots vary a great deal, as do her characters.
Dec 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime
Well i am new to Margaret Millar's writing as I have read only the beast in view. The first book impressed me as I am not very keen on American writers. Her writing was strong with notable plot twists, anxious moments and agony. I would descride it as a guilty pleasure because is not your typical crime or murder case is a combination of a mystery novel with touches of romance. Even though I was really fond of the book when I read the last pages I felt rather disappointed. But in any case is a ...more
Feb 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another strong mystery by Margaret Millar -- the ending was goofily satisfying, although the final explain-it-all scene was a little goofy. Millar writes very strong characters with distinct voices, and although I had some ideas, I really wasn't sure how this one would turn out until I got through to the very end...
May 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is so well-written and engrossing, you hardly notice that the mystery is maybe unnecessarily convoluted. Millar loves her twists, so there is one, but that's not what keeps me reading her books. She is just such an efficient writer, making her point without breaking a sweat. I love her dark humour and the whiff of misanthropy that permeates all her mysteries.
Jul 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Millar does it again.
Stephanie Lee
Author really tried hard to give a surprise twist in the end but the journey just wasn't interesting enough. The plot is neither convincing nor entertaining.
Jeremy Trumble
I really like Margaret Millar books and this one is another great one from her from the beginning to the very last sentence...
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Margaret Ellis Millar (née Sturm) was an American-Canadian mystery and suspense writer. Born in Kitchener, Ontario, she was educated there and in Toronto. She moved to the United States after marrying Kenneth Millar (better known under the pen name Ross Macdonald). They resided for decades in the city of Santa Barbara, which was often utilized as a locale in her later novels under the pseudonyms ...more

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